On 1 October 2012, the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) Act 2012 came into effect, creating a national framework for product energy efficiency in Australia. The GEMS Regulator replaced the previous state regulators, and is the sole party responsible for administering the legislation in Australia.
The legal instruments that set out the GEMS requirements are the:
The specific requirements for each product regulated under the GEMS Act—including Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and Energy Rating Labelling (ERL) requirements—are set out in a further legislative instrument specific to that product type called a GEMS Determination.
Many products are covered by energy efficiency regulations and must meet certain regulatory requirements before they can be supplied or sold in Australia or New Zealand.
Depending on the product, this may include Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), energy rating label requirements or both. There are specific requirements relevant to Australia and New Zealand.
Note: the referenced Standards are published individually or jointly by Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand and are available for purchase from SAI Global.
Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) specify the minimum level of energy performance that appliances, lighting and electrical equipment (products) must meet or exceed before they can be offered for sale or used for commercial purposes.
MEPS are mandatory for a range of products in Australia and New Zealand. These products must be registered through an online register and meet a number of legal requirements before they can be sold in either of these countries. To find out the MEPS requirements for a particular product check the relevant Australian GEMS determination or New Zealand regulation on the regulated products page.
MEPS are an effective way to increase the energy efficiency of products. By specifying a minimum energy performance level inefficient products are prevented from entering the marketplace, and manufacturers are given appropriate signals to increase product efficiency. For consumers, MEPS mean that products available in the market use less energy and have lower running costs over their lifetime.
The Australian and New Zealand governments work together, and consult with industry, to determine appropriate MEPS for products.
MEPS and energy rating label requirements are reviewed periodically to ensure they keep up with advances in technology. As a result, from time to time there may be new or revised MEPS or energy label requirements introduced for regulated products. Also, subject to the findings of rigorous product assessments (see above), MEPS or energy label regulations may also be introduced, from time to time, for new products.
The Energy Rating Label, or ERL, provides consumers with energy performance information at point-of-sale on a range of products that are regulated under the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) Act 2012. An ERL will assist a consumer to compare between similar product models through comparing their star rating and estimated annual energy consumption.
The ERL is known as a comparative label, as the star rating and energy consumption estimates allow consumers to compare the energy efficiency of different models of a similar size and capacity, and (ideally) choose the most efficient one that meets their needs.
A range of products are required under the GEMS Act to display an Energy Rating Label (ERL) at their point of sale in Australia.
‘Standards’ are published documents that set out specifications and testing procedures to ensure that products are safe, reliable and consistently perform the way they are described. Standards also set out specifications to ensure products meet certain energy performance levels.
Standards play a key role in regulating the energy efficiency of energy using products; however Australia and New Zealand use Standards in a slightly different way:
Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand publish individual and joint Standards. Standards can be purchased from SAI Global and Standards New Zealand. Standards that apply in New Zealand are also available for inspection at EECA’s head office.
The registration page contains a list of the performance and test standards that apply to products regulated under the E3 program.
The specific requirements for each product regulated under the GEMS Act — including Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and Energy Rating Labelling (ERL) requirements—are set out in a further legislative instrument specific to that product type called a GEMS Determination.
A GEMS Determination sets out the requirements to be met by products (in each product class covered by the determination) in order to be legally registered, supplied, or offered for supply in Australia. These can include relevant clauses from Australian Standards.
Standards are separately published documents that set out specifications and testing procedures to ensure that products are safe, reliable, and consistently perform the way they are described. Standards can also set out specifications to ensure products meet certain energy performance levels and other energy efficiency requirements.
Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand publish individual and joint standards. Standards can be purchased from SAI Global and Standards New Zealand. Standards that apply in New Zealand are also available for inspection at EECA’s head office.
In New Zealand the legislative instrument for product energy efficiency is the Energy Efficiency (Energy Using Products) Regulations 2002 (NZ Regulations). It is enforced by the New Zealand Regulator, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
New Zealand MEPS and ERL requirements are outlined on the EECA website under current product standards. A table summarising the testing, MEPS and energy rating labelling standards is also available on the EECA website.
Products registered in Australia are also considered registered under the NZ Regulations, and the product can be supplied in New Zealand provided the energy performance characteristics of that item comply with the standards for that item’s product class. New Zealand product registrations are not recognised in Australia.
The Products page provides information on which products require MEPS compliance and/or energy rating labels. This page also lists Australian GEMS determinations and New Zealand product standards.
To legally supply any product regulated under the GEMS Act , you must complete the following steps:
To show that your product complies with energy efficiency regulations you may need to hold a test report or test report summary and you may be required to provide it as part of the registration process. The test methods and conditions are outlined in the relevant Australian GEMS Determination.
Testing may be undertaken using your own test laboratory, an appropriate third party test facility, or an accredited third party testing laboratory. You may consider using an accredited third party for product testing because of the independent quality assurance and validity it provides. In Australia accreditation is provided by NATA—National Association of Testing Authorities and in New Zealand by IANZ—International Accreditation New Zealand.
In Australia, the GEMS Regulator undertakes a range of compliance activities to ensure that manufacturers and suppliers comply with the regulations. These include monitoring what products are being registered, and verification and enforcement activities.
There are penalties for suppliers who do not comply with the energy efficiency regulations. Full details about offences and penalties are outlined in the GEMS Act.
To apply for registration in either country you will need to complete an online application form on the Energy Rating Registration Site.
Any product classes that are outside the scope of the regulations are considered exclusions. The scope of the regulations is set out in the relevant Australian GEMS Determination or for New Zealand, the relevant product standard.